Factors impacting the rapid transition of anatomy curricula to an online environment in response to Covid-19

Laura D. Bauler, Kate M. Lesciotto, Wendy Lackey-Cornelison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many academic institutions had to rapidly transition education to a remote online environment. While a hurdle for most educators, this transition posed an even greater challenge for anatomy educators, many of whom were forced to depart from the traditional cadaver-based laboratory to a virtual format. Recent publications have discussed the rapid transition to online formats necessitated by Covid-19 and the accompanying difficulties, but none have identified specific factors that influenced the difficulty of this transition. Anatomy educators were surveyed to examine how this transition was accomplished and perceived. Of the 165 educators who responded, the majority utilized cadaver-based laboratory instruction. Educators felt that transitioning the laboratory portion of their courses was significantly more difficult and required more time than converting lecture materials. Factors that impacted the difficulty of the transition included a number of pedagogical aspects of the pre-Covid-19 curricula, including the delivery format of prior content, availability of pre-existing electronic materials, and the laboratory technique previously used. Additionally, the length of time an educator had been teaching prior to Covid-19 impacted their perception of difficulty, with newer and more senior educators finding this much more challenging than mid-tenure educators. Ease of transition may be related to previous exposure to curricular reform, experience with multiple anatomy pedagogies, and educator adaptability. While not surprising that converting a cadaver-based laboratory to an online format was challenging, knowledge of the alignment of this difficulty with prior educator pedagogy can help guide future innovations to anatomy education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • cadaver-based laboratory
  • curriculum transition
  • dissection
  • gross anatomy education
  • medical education
  • online learning
  • prosection
  • remote learning
  • virtual learning


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